Wintery Songs in Eleventy Part Harmony

Thursday December 21, 2017
$25 public | $23 members

Wintery Songs in Eleventy Part Harmony is a collaborative group of Boston-based singers and string players who gather once a year to reinvent the sound of the holidays. With new arrangements of classics (both sacred and secular) and a throng of unlikely additions to the seasonal lexicon, Wintery Songs is anchored by major-label veterans and highly acclaimed harmony singers Jennifer Kimball and Rose Polenzani. The 2016 Wintery Songs line-up includes award-winning Scottish fiddler/songwriter Hannah Read, free-styling celtic fiddler Jenna Moynihan, the boundary-stretching cellist Valerie Thompson, and singer/pianist Deni Hlavinka. Award-winning Canadian songstress Rose Cousins will join in for the first three shows. Rearranging hymns and pop gems, Wintery Songs celebrates the sacred tradition and also represents the fascinating sonic melting pot of December sounds: the pagan, the schmaltz, the pop, and new ‘cold’ songs by alt-pop bands Real Estate and Mt. Eerie, and new songs by Jennifer Kimball, Laura Cortese and Brittany Haas.

Part POPS in a suitcase, the Wintery Songs strings play with a distinctly celtic flavor and share with the singers a healthy dose of irreverence. The songs on the group’s debut album, HARK, run the gamut from familiar hymns “Joy to the World” on baritone uke (sung by Kimball) and “The Holly & the Ivy” (Cousins) with a driving rhythmic string drone to a Scottish style jig written by Laura Cortese. All six ladies sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” a cappella in a round, one after the other until the rising and falling of voices becomes a chant. Polenzani’s magical arrangement of Real Estate’s “Snow Days” shimmers; Kimball’s “Jingle Bells” ala Frank Sinatra swings, Cortese’s reharmonization of “Winter Wonderland” is deeply satisfying in a minor key. “Silent Night” might send a little shiver down your spine with each member of the group playing one glockenspiel note at a time and special guest folk superstar Anais Mitchell singing lead. A medley of tunes from Tchaikovsky’s "Nutcracker Suite,” arranged by the superb cellist Natalie Haas (featuring Kimball and Polenzani on glockenspiels and everyone singing) is a showstopper!